Sarah Pickthall and Annalees Lim are currently running the DigiBuddies creative social media course at Pallant House Gallery. We asked Sarah to tell us more about DigiBuddies and how the SprungDigi project has grown since their inaugural festival in 2015.
“The world is moving so fast and learning disabled people are being left behind. We need to spring learning disabled people into a digital life.”
Andy Kee, DigiCrew
SprungDigi is a digital arts project managed by the Community Arts Department at Horsham District Council and disability arts agency Cusp Inc, funded by Arts Council England.
SprungDigi is designed to develop the digital lives of learning disabled people in their communities in West Sussex, developing their creativity through digital arts and their connectivity at a time when the cuts in social care mean that access to creative opportunities are few and far between.
SprungDigi is shaped by our DigiCrew who are learning disabled artists of all ages who sit at the heart of the project and who shape everything we do. We make sure that our DigiCrew have the chance to work with digital artists at the top of their game and we train them to share their skills too in accessible ways, so that everyone can benefit.
SprungDigi first hit the streets of Horsham in the Summer of 2015 with the SprungDigi Festival, the first ever learning disabled digital festival showcasing digital artwork made by and for learning disabled people. The festival featured animation, gaming, mapping, video portraiture and interactive dance and music software, shared across the town for everyone to enjoy. The festival was a huge success, putting learning disabled people on the map in a very different way.
After the festival we became aware that many of the learning disabled people that we were working with didn’t have access to social media or smartphones because they and their parents or carers felt that being online wasn’t safe. So in 2016, we decided to develop DigiBuddies to address their concerns.
DigiBuddies is safeguarded six week course in creative social media where learning disabled people can learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, Vine and YouTube with a parent, carer or friend, building their connection and their confidence together and doing this safely.
We piloted the course this summer working with our DigiCrew in Horsham and at a day centre in Crawley. We found that the course worked for everybody, not just learning disabled people but their buddies too.
We have been running Digibuddies in the studio at Pallant House Gallery this autumn with a new group who are developing their confidence and skills in social media. Because the course is designed with learning disabled people in mind, it is accessible to many of the artists who work closely with Pallant House Gallery projects with or without learning disabilities.
An important part of being an artist is to be able to share your work, your thinking and your ideas online through social media, so you can be part of the arts community. Working alongside someone is a good way to do this, trying things out together and having someone to ask questions when you’re not sure what to do next.
Next up, SprungDigi will be developing DigiBuddies into a longer course so participants can spend time developing their artwork through apps and get their creative thinking out there.